Cicadas. Part III.


Found on the Cobble Hill sidewalk: the forewing of a dog day cicada. (Earlier posts about cicadas are here and here.) The size (1.5″ across) and green color identify it. You will, I believe, be pleased if you click on the image to open it up to see it larger.

Cicadas, like most bugs, have four wings. In cicadas, the hind wings are smaller, tucked under the forewings, and harder to see. In this case, this forewing was the only part of the bug I found; it may have been clipped off by a predator.

BTW, the flies, which include mosquitos, have only one pair of wings, which is why that buzzy gang are all in the order Diptera (ptera is wing). [Diptera do have small, club-like structures where their second pair of wings would be; these help them stabilize their flight]. Bees, meanwhile, have the four wings but merge them together with a sort of natural velcro for flight so it looks they have two. Beetle forewings have evolved into hard elatra, or shell-like coverings of the more delicate hindwings. Tricky bugs. “Endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful….”

The pattern of veins on an insect wing is known as “wing venation” and varies with species, making it important for taxonomy. I know virtually nothing about this level of detail, but I love the mark of Zorro I see here.

(This is being written as I listen to a cicada out back beyond the Back 40. It’s a soothing sort of sibilant shusshing sound, rising, then trailing off…. A deft hand with the maracas, a mellow rain stick.)

2 Responses to “Cicadas. Part III.”


  1. 1 Melinda Antoon Cormier May 19, 2016 at 2:51 am

    Hello, Brooklyn, from near the Gulf of Mexico, and the border of Louisiana/Texas. I am researching cicada images for a series of artworks using personally iconic forms of nature that shaped my childhood, and continue to engage my aesthetic interest. Cicadas are wailing outside my studio, in the garden, in the night, and yes, their sound is so ubiquitous as to not be heard consciously… and then, you do. I am enjoying your posts, for their viewpoint of a curious naturalist, for the candid gentle humor of your observations. The image of the single wing, so close-up, so personal to your way of observing, and so very useful to my work, has interested me in saying to you, directly, ‘thank you.’ Those green, dog day cicada were the delightful monster aliens of my childhood in Arkansas. Happy trails, and many finds among your walks and searches of your city. ~ M. Antoon


  1. 1 Cicadas Emerging « Backyard and Beyond Trackback on July 15, 2011 at 11:44 am

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